Ed Miliband brands final HS2 route decision 'wrong and perverse' as government confirms new homes will be demolished

 
Rebecca Smith
The former Labour leader said the information seemed to be
The former Labour leader said the information seemed to be "sneaked out" (Source: Getty)

Former Labour leader and Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband has slammed the government's confirmed phase two route for HS2's path north of Birmingham as "wrong and perverse".

Transport secretary Chris Grayling announced this afternoon that the decided route through South Yorkshire will mean 16 new homes on the Shimmer housing estate in Mexborough will be demolished.

The confirmed route through Yorkshire for the £56bn rail project has the service running through Sheffield city centre, rather than an alternative proposal of a station at Sheffield Meadowhall.

Read more: Mapped: The final HS2 route spanning Manchester and Leeds has been revealed

But Miliband, who is the MP for the people of Mexborough, said: "Today's decision on HS2 is wrong and perverse. It flies in the face of evidence, logic, and above all, the economic needs of South Yorkshire. The Meadowhall route would be better for jobs, regeneration, journey times, connectivity and for tackling the inequalities we face. We now know that the consultation was 15:1 against the M18 route but it has been ignored."

He also criticised the way the route was announced, with a lack of a Commons statement.

The government and HS2 should be ashamed about the way they have gone about this decision. Their arguments do not add up, the consultation was a sham, and the residents have been ignored.

Chris Grayling has added insult to injury by failing to come to the House of Commons to justify his decision and trying to sneak out a written statement. I will be seeking to force him to come and explain himself tomorrow.

After anger over Grayling's decision not to give a statement to the Commons earlier, he will give a statement to parliament later tonight.

In today's announcement, Grayling said: "By building a whole new railway line for high-speed intercity connections, we will free up local services, meaning more comfort, more seats and more trains for passengers across the north and the midlands.

"We will now press ahead with building the line, while continuing to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect."

Business backing

Business groups have backed the route decisions.

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: "Today’s decision is the best outcome for the region, and should bolster investment into Sheffield. We’re pleased to see the Department for Transport connect the objectives of HS2 with Transport for the North, and the choice to link the city centres is a sensible one. It’s good that the decision has now been made but there is plenty of work still to be done between now and 2033 to maximise the potential of this project."

Meanwhile, Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said:

These announcements are important not only for this particular section of HS2 but they also signify a step forward for the project as a whole, linking London and the north of England.

Along with Crossrail 2 and another runway at Heathrow, these major infrastructure projects are essential for London to cope with an expanding population and to remain competitive with the rest of the world.

And Lord Adonis, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, who declared HS2 one of the 12 most pressing infrastructure priorities for ministers last month, also welcomed the progress on developing the rail route from London to the North of England. An upcoming bill for the section from the West Midlands to Crewe will effectively act as a planning application, according to the DfT.

"It is a huge step forward to have contracts in place to begin construction on the ground, and a second Bill in the House to maintain momentum towards delivering a high-speed and high-capacity connection between London and the North of England," Lord Adonis said.

“The announcement by the transport secretary means the industry can continue confidently with their plans to deliver this vital project, and communities can consider how best to make the most of this significant investment."

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